Core transport proposals for Oxford

New and updated proposals aim to make Oxford a safer, cleaner place to live, work and visit.

Our vision

We are proposing three transport schemes in Oxford to create a sustainable and reliable transport system in the city. This includes a city-wide workplace parking levy, traffic filters and a wider zero-emission zone. More information on these proposals can be found further down this page.

The proposals will expand connectivity, protect our environment and improve the health and wellbeing of residents. They will reallocate road space for pedestrians, cyclists and buses, and make travelling without a car an easier choice for everyone.

Reduced traffic could also mean that those who need to travel by car or van may be able to do so faster in some parts of the city.

Our proposals are ambitious and will require some people to change the way they travel into and around the city. Public consultations on these proposals will take place in summer 2022. We want to hear your views to ensure these proposals work for everyone.

Reasons

There are a number of reasons we are proposing these schemes:
  • Transport emissions have left parts of Oxford with high levels of air pollution which is shortening people’s lives. Urgent action is also needed to reduce our carbon emissions to help tackle climate change.
  • Many cyclists don’t feel safe using the city’s roads and we want to prevent accidents.
  • Roads are clogged with traffic, which means buses are slow, unreliable and can’t adequately serve all parts of the city.  Without action, more bus services will be scaled back or disappear.
  • Chronic congestion in the city costs individuals and businesses time and money.
  • Pedestrians are too often squeezed into narrow, cluttered pavements.
  • Traffic noise blights some of the city’s communities and streets.

Our proposals

Traffic filters

Traffic filters are points on roads through which only certain types of vehicles (e.g. buses, taxis and cycles) may pass, similar to the existing bus gate in Oxford High Street. Traffic filters help reduce the number of vehicles travelling to and around the city and results in less congestion, improved bus journey times and safer streets for everyone.  They also make cycling and walking much more attractive options, and improve local air quality. 

 Traffic signs identify the location of each traffic filter, including operational hours and vehicles that are exempt to travel through. The scheme would be enforced using automatic number plate recognition cameras. The exact location of traffic filters will be finalised after engagement, public consultation and further detailed design work.

Workplace parking levy

A workplace parking levy (WPL) is an annual charge to businesses for staff parking spaces at their premises.  Any business with 11 or more staff parking spaces in Oxford City Council’s administrative area, within the Oxford ring road, would pay the WPL. The money raised by the WPL would be used to improve transport in the city, including bus services and walking and cycling infrastructure. 

Zero-emission zone

A zero-emission zone (ZEZ) is an area where vehicles that are fully zero-emission can be driven free of charge. Other vehicles that rely on fossil fuels need to pay a charge for driving in the area.  Funds raised by the ZEZ will be used to support the transition to zero-emission transport in the city. 

ZEZ pilot launched in Oxford’s city centre on 28 February. The ZEZ pilot will allow the councils to gain useful insights before introducing a larger ZEZ covering most of Oxford city centre next year, subject to further public consultation.

Supporting measures

Oxfordshire County Council has been making improvements to the city’s transport network in preparation for these schemes which have been part of our long-term transport strategy since 2015.

We’ve increased the capacity of the ring road and expanded the Park & Ride system, introduced cycling improvements, rolled out controlled parking zones and made other improvements to support sustainable transport in the city.  Some recent and planned examples are:

Timeline

Activity Date
Engagement with businesses and other organisations Spring to summer 2022
Technical work Spring to summer 2022
Public consultation   Summer 2022
Cabinet decision Autumn 2022

Frequently asked questions

What are the likely impacts of introducing these proposals and how will they be assessed? 

The proposed schemes may require some people to change their travel behaviour, although Oxford is less reliant on private car travel than other UK cities.  Only 34% of Oxford residents travel to work by car according to the last census (2011), with bus and cycle use across the city already higher than in most comparable cities. 

For some journeys where people can’t switch to another mode of transport, they will have the option of using the outer ring road to travel, upgrading to zero or lower emission vehicle and/or paying ZEZ or WPL charges. 

A detailed assessment of the traffic filters, WPL and ZEZ is being undertaken. ​The analysis will capture a range of impacts, such as:​​

  • Changes in traffic flow, travel times and mode of travel.​
  • ​Impact on air quality and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • ​Impact on economy including on jobs and wider effects.
  • ​Social and distributional impacts on different groups of people including those with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010.   ​

How will these proposals impact businesses?

An economic impact assessment is being carried out to understand both the costs and benefits of the proposals. These schemes have the potential to help the local economy grow because reduced traffic and improved public transport, walking and cycling, will make it easier for some customers, employees and suppliers to travel. They should also make Oxford a more attractive city to work in resulting in increased business and staff retention.

Will there be public consultation on these schemes?

Yes, public consultation is planned for this summer so everyone will have an opportunity to comment on the proposals before a decision is made.  We are currently engaging with businesses and other organisations such as hospitals and universities directly.

These proposals have also been subject to the following engagement and consultations in the past:

  • 2015​ – A ZEZ, WPL and Traffic Filters were first introduced in the Oxford Transport Strategy and consulted on as part of the county’s Local Transport Plan (Connecting Oxfordshire)
  • 2017​ - First consultation on ZEZ
  • 2019​ - Update on ZEZ​ proposals, and separately, first consultation on more detailed plans for a WPL and Traffic Filter proposals (‘Connecting Oxford’) 
  • 2020​ - Second consultation on ZEZ​ and separately, consultation on temporary city-centre bus gates proposals
  • 2021​ - Final consultation on the ZEZ Pilot